- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 7, 2000

6 defense chiefs OK pullback from Congo

HARARE, Zimbabwe Defense chiefs from six African countries as well as rebel groups fighting in Congo signed an agreement yesterday to begin withdrawing troops from front-line positions later this month.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who has deployed a quarter of his country's army in the former Zaire, urged the warring parties to cooperate in pulling their forces back.

"Let today be a day of renewal of our common determination, commitment and resolve to ensure that peace wins," Mr. Mugabe said at a signing ceremony in Harare.

The defense chief of the Ugandan-backed Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) was not present for the signing. But Zimbabwean government officials said the MLC had endorsed the plan at a meeting in Lusaka last month.

Ghana voting end to Rawlings era

ACCRA, Ghana The West African nation of Ghana heralds the end of 19 years in power for maverick President Jerry Rawlings with general elections today.

Mr. Rawlings, who seized power twice through the barrel of a gun but won multiparty elections in 1992 and 1996, cannot run for a third term because of a constitutional two-term limit.

He is the longest-serving head of state of Ghana, the first black African nation to gain independence from Britain in 1957.

Seven candidates are vying for the presidency, with Mr. Rawlings' vice president, John Atta Mills, and the leader of the main opposition party, John Kufuor, as the front-runners.

Dolly cloners set deal with U.S. firm

LONDON The Scottish scientists who created Dolly, the world's first cloned mammal, announced a deal yesterday with U.S. biotech company Viragen Inc. to breed chickens that produce life-saving drugs in their eggs.

Dr. Helen Sang of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute said the deal will combine the nuclear transfer technology used to make Dolly the sheep with Viragen's expertise in developing anti-cancer proteins.

"The essence of this project is to create chickens which produce eggs containing new drugs to treat many serious diseases, including cancer," Dr. Sang said in a statement.

Venezuela brushes off rebel support claims

CARACAS, Venezuela This country yesterday dismissed U.S. concern over reports that President Hugo Chavez had given support to violent rebels in Ecuador and Bolivia.

"It is completely false," Foreign Minister Jose Vicente Rangel told Reuters by telephone.

Mr. Chavez, a leftist-oriented populist who has irked Washington with his anti-American rhetoric, said the accusations were part of an international campaign to weaken his leadership.

Ivory Coast holiday at odds with curfew

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast Ivory Coast marks the seventh anniversary of the death of its founding father today under a tense state of emergency after at least 22 persons died in political and ethnic violence this week.

A public holiday in memory of Felix Houphouet-Boigny, who ruled the West African country from independence in 1960 until his death 33 years later, could only start once an overnight curfew ended at dawn.

The government called a weeklong state of emergency and overnight curfew after the opposition Rally of the Republicans (RDR) staged bloody street protests on Monday over the exclusion of its leader, former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara, from parliamentary elections next Sunday.

Estrada's mistresses face call to testify

MANILA On the eve of President Joseph Estrada's impeachment trial on bribery charges, lawyers quarreled yesterday over one of the more sensational prospects: that some of his mistresses would be called to testify.

Prosecutors want to inspect mansions that Mr. Estrada, a former action-movie star, allegedly acquired for some of the women.

"They are just trying to introduce the mansion issue into the articles of impeachment," complained presidential Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora.

Mr. Estrada faces charges of bribery, corruption, violating the constitution and betraying the public trust most stemming from a provincial governor's claims that he gave Mr. Estrada millions of dollars in kickbacks from an illegal numbers game and skimmed tobacco-tax money. Mr. Estrada denies the charges.

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